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Page history last edited by Contessa 11 years, 6 months ago

25 April 2009

got drunk and asked a stranger if love was an action or a feeling:


"are you kidding me? i feel it in my bones."


... only because it acts on you.


17 April 2009

so i had a fantatic burroughsian idea while i was at a bar tonight (tried to explain it, they thought i was crazy. expected, right?), it slipped its way away (fuckin suck). tried to explain it to my companion (whom most of you know) yet he did not understand. I would like to have a communal burroughsian understanding  (get-together) outside of class. Anyone interested in altering consciousness and doing burroughs together, please post. It is haunting me when I'm not asking, and I would like to discuss it.


13 April 2009

I'm thinking something along the lines of gender and duality and smashing it all to pieces in Burroughs. I'm picking up on a lot of interesting nuggets in The Place of Dead Roads in this vein... I'm not sure where I want to go with it yet, but ruminating will occur.


And perhaps a linoprint.


07 April 2009

I find that whenever I read Burroughs, I spend a lot of time trying to decipher his thoughts on gender, women, and sex. With that, being the good postmodern feminist I am, I also spend a lot of time attempting to formulate a feminist critique or opinion of his words and language structures. My initial reaction was disgust, as the female characters were never really portrayed as particularly strong or positive (then again, neither were many of the males). The more I think about it though, if we assume that (English) language is a patriarchal structure that assumes the male as the norm and creator or generator of meaning, Burroughs is doing a pretty feminist thing by cutting up language and destroying the hierarchical, male normative meanings that exist in traditional literature. Couple that with his rejection of male-female binary in terms of sexuality, and I think that one can argue that Burroughs is actually producing some interesting postmodern feminist literature-- at least in terms of the early, cut-up stuff. I haven't finished The Place of Dead Roads yet, so I'll look forward to seeing how his more recent, less-cut-up oriented work pans out.


31 March 2009

Read this today and thought of the subjective experience vs. Christianity diametric we posed earlier in the semester. Written by C.S. Lewis from the perspective of a demon:


"Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it real life, and don't let him ask what he means by real. Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (oh, that abominable advantage of the Enemy's!) you don't realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary.....Thanks to processes which we set at work in them centuries ago, they find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes. Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things. Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can't touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don't let him get away from that invaluable 'real life.' But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is 'the results of modern investigation.' Do remember you are there to fuddle him." - The Screwtape Letters, Letter #1


23 March 2009

Uncle Bill Ruled My Spring Break, Part II

I really enjoyed our conversation today about dreams, consciousness, and lucid dreaming. Whoever mentioned the correlation between terrifying dreams and siestas must have been one of my hostel roommates the other week, as I  was in a country that participated in siesta and never in my life have I  had such terrifying dream(like) experiences on such a frequent basis. I'd settle down for my siesta, think that I  was just laying in bed trying to fall asleep, and eventually something horrifying would happen. I absolutely agree that this space we sometimes slip into, usually with napping, in between sleep and consciousness is terrifying, dangerous, and just generally not fun. If I'd known I was dreaming, it wouldn't have been so bad. It'd have been a nightmare, I'd known it was a dream, and I'd have been able to move on. The fact that the experience was so confused with consciousness is what made it so terrifying, I  think. In one hostel I stayed in, there were no windows and the room was absolutely dead silent. That made waking up from these semi-conscious nightmares even more bizarre-- how do you know when you're no longer dreaming when you wake up and there's nothing to see or hear?  Nothing immediately sensory to consume?


(Did anyone notice the buzz was gone in class today?)


22 March 2009

I think I had a sort of Burroughs-ian spring break experience, and though I tried to explain it to my travel companions, none of them had heard of Burroughs and quickly told me to shut up, that I was on spring break and not in school. It started with the plane ride, crossing six time zones over the course of nine hours. Some might call it jet lag, but after being tainted by our musings on the myth of linear time in this class, I couldn't help but think this whole, "oh, add six hours, it's really THIS time now" is kind of a baseless way to operate.


Complicate matters by the fact that the weekend we were traveling happened to be daylight savings time and that the country I was traveling to doesn't participate in DST. One of my hostel roommates was from Taiwan and was telling us that after living abroad in the States for several years she made a trip home only to find out half-way through her visit that Taiwan had decided to stop participating in DST while she was out of the country. I thought it was interesting that a country could just decide not to switch its clocks, and what sort of mayhem would erupt if our government ever tried to pull that in our time-obsessed country.


What was particularly Burroughsian, I thought, was this stat screen that the airline displayed on all of the monitors during the flight. "Time until arrival," "duration of flight," "time at origin," "time at destination," and every variation thereof. It was like a super self-aware time machine. With nine hours to kill, it's quite easy for one to become addicted to the countdown to arrival. It's even easier to foster this addiction when one contracts the flu and is vomiting the entire flight home, as was the case with myself. We talked in class about getting so caught up in something you enjoy that an hour only seems like 15 minutes. In this case, I'd close my eyes and try to fall asleep (to no avail) for what felt like at least an hour only to open my eyes and be confronted with the goddamn countdown clock only changing by ten minutes. I've never been so hyper-aware of time as a structure, especially since for the entire week I'd gone without a watch or my cell phone. It was an interestingly liberating experience to eat only because I was hungry and not because it was between the hours of 11 and 1:00 and therefore lunchtime, and to sleep because I was truly exhausted be it at 1:00 in the afternoon or 5:00 in the morning.


I might not understand much of Burroughs, but I'm definitely digging this rejection of non-subjective linear time.




16 February 2009

"The Oblique Addict suffers a whole spectrum of subjective horror... If his charge connection is cut off cold, the Oblique Addict falls into such violent electric convulsions that his bones shake loose, and he dies with the skeleton straining to climb out of his unendurable flesh and run in a straight line to the nearest cemetary. The relation between an O.A. (Oblique Addict) and his R.C. (Recharge Connection) is so intense that they can only endure each other's company for brief and infrequent intervals-- I mean aside from recharge meets, when all personal contact is eclipsed by the recharge process." (Naked Lunch 62-3)


This passage really jumped out at me as I was reading Naked Lunch. I'm still trying to make sense of Burroughs and these uncomfortable books that we're reading, so when I find nuggests of clarity amongst the typically frustrating writing, it makes them all the more complex and interesting to chew on. I can't help but read into this passage beyond the world of junk. The idea that one depends on something so much that it is when one is without that thing that the most movement and evolution is provoked... that one can come together with said thing solely for the purpose of "recharging," with no other agenda at hand. I can't put my finger on it, but with the idea of power dynamics that we've been talking about in class (i.e. the Military Industrial Complex), Burroughs is showing that a junkie relationship is not limited strictly to the currency of junk.


Perhaps why that's why my intellectual skeleton is doing its best to beeline the hell away from Burroughs. It's not that I'm particularly conservative when it comes to literature and art, but I'm definitely realizing my dependence on langauge structures and conventions to define and inform my own artistic experiences. Re: the stash: I like the comparison to Bitches Brew. My brother is a jazz musician and I called him for his take on it, and it was essentially what I wanted/needed to hear about Burroughs, too. "You can't listen to it like you do other music," he said, "it's about doing something no one had ever done before. It's not about the work itself but what it did." For the rest of you, that might seem obvious as we read Burroughs. For me, it's something I'm still trying to accept.


That in mind, for my portion of the zine, I'm thinking it'd be interesting to really evaluate the real consequences of Burroughs. What had been done prior to his work? What was being done at the same time? What were the consequences? Without falling back on a "good vs. bad" analysis, what do we get out of Burroughs today? Essentially, I'd like to try and answer the question that I'm still grappling to answer: what good is reading Burroughs-- why isn't it just crap? I'm sure there's an answer, so I'd like to try and explore that. When I pressed my brother as to the differences between Bitches Brew and some shitty squaking on a trumpet that I might produce, it was hard for him to clearly articulate why, but it was obvious that there was some meat to his argument somewhere in there. Right now, I feel like that's where I'm at with Burroughs. I feel like there's some value there somewhere, but I need to do some major turning off and tuning in to figure it out myself.




2 February 2009


So I haven't written anything on this blog until now-- mostly because I'm at a loss for what TO write. To be honest, I'm having a hard time getting through what we've read of Burroughs so far. I hate to say it, but Junky and The Yage Letters have seemed comparable to that person who insists on telling you about a really boring dream they had that is SO interesting to them but that you (and everyone else) couldn't care less about. Further compounding this frustration is that in the back of my mind, I can't help but scream "WHO CARES!" as I read all of this. People are dying and starving and killing each other in the world, and this guy's writing about an essentially mindless (i.e. the bug analogy from class) process of addiction. Why should I care?! I agree with colonial trinkets's observation that while Junky was actually intriguing because it had some meat to the story, I finished The Yage Letters pretty pissed that I'd just spent an hour of my time reading that junk (pun intended). Great: South America, blue flashes, vomit.


At the same time, somehow, I'm still intrigued enough to keep going (I know, I know). I feel like what we've read of Burroughs so far sort of makes him the original Bret Easton Ellis. Your "average" reader might pick up American Psycho or The Rules of Attraction and not be able to make it past the first few pages because, in reality, Ellis' work seems at first glance to be totally vapid and lacking any substance whatsoever. It's also really hard to read-- if you've read American Psycho, for example, it's incredibly graphic and violent and, much of the time, really really boring. At the same time, I would argue that his body of work is some of the most salient, relevant, and complex in recent memory. I truly believe that American Psycho is one of the most clever and honest satires once you get past the surface level.


It makes me wonder if maybe Burroughs' work is the same sort of deal. I hated American Psycho as I was reading it, but once it ripened and sunk in, it became one of my favorite books. I've appreciated much of Yage and Junky on aesthetic levels (which is more than I could with Ellis), so I have high hopes for Naked Lunch.

Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 11:35 pm on Feb 3, 2009

I agree to the max. I didn't enjoy the story behind The Yaje Letters (kind of boring to me), but I did enjoy Burrough's style of writing...his language. But wasn't his goal to separate us from the language, to free us from word authority?

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